Hello dear, wonderful readers! I promise tomorrow the regular Sunday post with Sylvia and her fine friends will still be made but I wanted to take a step back and make a regular bloggy post instead of just another story snippet. This post is mainly sharing a revelation I’ve had: It is possible to have the supposed elements needed for what should be an intense page-turner of a story and yet the story itself to be flat and rather devoid of life. While I’m certain I was already aware of this sad truth, as I’m sure you are as well, it became quite clear to me with the help of Bigfoot and vampires.
My wonderful, sweet husband has complained on numerous occasions that while he’s subjected himself to some of my favorite books, I’ve never tried reading anything he’s enjoyed. Now granted, one of the treasures from my bookshelf he chose was A Wrinkle in Time and he’s been wanting me to give the clan novel series set in Vampire the Masquerade/World of Darkness a try. If you know anything about either you can probably see where our reading choices don’t exactly mesh. But he made the effort and I decided I would to. So, I’ve read two of the books (Clan Setite and Clan Ravnos). The super basic plot with the first one is this: Elizabeth, a “girl next door” type of woman who works at an upscale antiques shop catches the attention of an arrogant, manipulative jerk of a vampire named Hesha. This particular vampire, who you would not want to run into in a dark alley, then spends a good portion of the novel trying to control her and understand her crazy dreams/visions as part of his attempt to find a dangerous but valuable artifact. This of course puts our friend Elizabeth in some dangerous situations and, without giving away too much info between the two books I read, we end up finding her being a prisoner more than once and trying to escape.
Now, I hated admitting it to my husband but I actually did get really into these two novels (though it was pretty easy to tell from the fact I couldn’t put either of the bloody things down. Hmm – no pun intended). The reason seems obvious – you want to know what’s going to happen to Elizabeth and make sure our “girl next door” makes it out of this crazy mess okay. Well, that’s what I thought my reason was anyway. There was also this almost, would-have-been-could-have-been love story of sorts between Hesha and Elizabeth but that obviously would have never been a match made in heaven by any stretch of the imagination.
Anyhow, I finished those two and, deciding to take a break from vampires, picked up a novel I’d purchased from a used book shop a little while ago but hadn’t got around to reading yet. And I’m surprisingly uninterested considering the story thus far. I don’t want to mention the title since I’m not putting the book in the best light, but the basic plot thus far is this: two couples go for a weekend get-away in the woods and a monster of some kind (it’s hairy, smells bad, and is really big) has attacked, taking the main character’s wife. At the part I’m at now, we don’t know what’s happened to the woman other than she’s missing and some hideous thing has her in its clutches while her husband, the other couple, and a whole gaggle of search and rescue folks are out looking for her. At this point, I’m aware of the fact I should be on the edge of my seat. I should be rooting for the guy to find his wife and hoping with each page turn that they’ll find her. But – I don’t care. The result is I find myself feeling like I’m reading something assigned from olden days of high school English class. And the additional result is I probably will not finish it. Maybe the woman and the big harry monster will ride off into the sunset together or open up a tea shop and sell scones in the end, I don’t know. I just really can’t muster enough concern for this character to want to turn the page and find out.
So what’s the deal? Both novels have likeable characters in danger and plenty of weird, should-be interesting things going on. But why was one a story I literally couldn’t put down and the other one I’m finding it a chore to pick back up? The conclusion I’ve come to is the characters and plot in the hairy monster story just aren’t as attention grabbing. Sure, Hesha is not exactly the type of character you want to root for but he’s a dang interesting one. I think a bigger part of the equation is how much in the head of the characters I’ve been allowed access to. The author bounces the viewpoint around to where you get an up close and personal snapshot of what’s going on in that manipulative little vampire head of his along with all the opinions, assumptions, fears, and motivations of Elizabeth and just about everyone else. Then there’s subplots and other little conflicts going on (the finer details of some which are not clear since I’ve only read two books in the series, both out of order) that act like yummy bacon slices thrown on burger.
And here’s my takeaway from this experience of sorts. While I’m fairly certain my vampires Deigen and V would probably be able to take on the hairy Bigfoot creature in my current read, I definitely want them and the other characters to be a lot more interesting. In the World of Darkness where my husband’s novel picks are set in, I have no doubt none of the characters in my Once would survive long. V would try to valiantly save the first person he saw about to be snacked on by another vampire, Bastiick and Deigen would likely say or do something quite silly, Sylvia would fire a mishap of a magic trick, and Seth would just confuse everyone as he ran past the humans to feast upon a school of fish. But in the end, I want them and the story setting they find themselves in to be something you and I care about. I’ve found that’s been the difficult part of posting my drafts as blog posts sometimes. But it’s a task not impossible and I still think both me and Sylvia are up to the challenge.
Thanks so much for staying with us along the first draft journey – and please let me know if there’s anything happening that might make you want to take a detour. The last thing I want is for anyone to get snagged up by a monster in the woods and no one to care!